Tampa Bay Rays
Unlikely combo of Molina's running, dome boost Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -
The Tampa Bay Rays' 5-3 victory Tuesday night against the visiting Boston Red Sox was a product of several things – the pitching of Matt Moore and the bullpen, the base running ability of Jose Molina and the good, ol' dome over Tropicana Field.
Matt Moore survived a three-run first and went six innings to become the American League's first seven-game winner.
The bullpen continued its run of shutdown work, extending its string of innings without an earned run to 16 2/3 with three more Tuesday.
Together they helped the Rays extend their winning streak to a season-long six games.
The offense scored five times in the fourth inning off Red Sox lefty John Lackey, and that's where Molina's legs and the roof came into play.
Molina, far from the fastest player on the team, singled home two runs to tie the score at 3-3. He then moved to second on a single by Yunel Escobar.
Desmond Jennings, the next batter, flied out to center field, hitting the ball deep enough for Molina to tag up and advance to third base.
Oh, yes, Molina was on the run.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Molina gets a pass on not running hard to first base because he's not going to beat out many grounders and because he needs to keep his legs healthy to get him through the season.
But Maddon said Molina is a good base runner despite his lack of speed, and his hustle to third base proved that.
Escobar hustled to second on the play, and that move proved large.
With two runners in scoring position, Joyce lifted a high fly ball into the off-white roof.
“I hit it on the barrel, I hit it really well,” Joyce said. “I just hit it really high. And here at the Trop, everybody knows that anything can happen with that roof, and the color that it is. I honestly saw it go up, I didn't see it hit anything, so I don't know if it hit something then bounced off and they lost it or if it just went up and Napoli lost it with the roof.”
Maddon said the ball passed through the upper reaches of the field without hitting anything.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli appeared to settle under it, but found himself backing up at the last minute.
“He seemed to lose it in the whiteness of the ceiling,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “That was an odd thing, to say the least.”
The ball landed between Napoli and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Molina scored and Escobar raced home behind him to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.
The ball began to roll toward the foul line, and since it hadn't past first base, it would have been a foul ball had it continued.
Pedoria decided against picking up the ball and trying to make a play on Escobar, choosing instead to see if the ball would roll into foul territory. That would make it simply a foul ball.
The ball didn't, though. It came to a stop just inches on the fair side of the foul line.
“To have it hit there and stay fair, tribute to the ground keepers,” Maddon said. “Nice going, boys.”